Busting Grammar Myths (Smithsonian Magazine)

Don’t worry about starting sentences with a conjunction, or ending sentences with prepositions. And it’s perfectly okay to split an infinitive, as in “to boldly go,” Smithsonian reports. So why do so many people buy into these phony rules?

The Smithsonian says the blame starts with “misguided Latinists who tried to impose the rules of their favorite language on English.” Although Latin sentences don’t end in prepositions, sentences in Germanic languages like English are allowed to — a practice that goes back Anglo-Saxon times.

But since Latinists didn’t feel strongly about starting sentences with a conjunction, the blame for this particular myth may fall on “well-meaning English teachers” who have wanted to discourage their students from leaning too heavily on ‘and’ for transitions.

In the end, every writer should be able to spot a bad grammar rule with this simple test: “If it makes your English stilted and unnatural, it’s probably a fraud,” Smithsonian advises.

Leave a Comment